Explanation as a method of training is tied to the belief that teaching children is based on information transfer. The idea is that if I explain to my kids how they should behave, what they did wrong and how to change, then they will behave differently and for the better. The problem with this method is that it misses the reality that behavior flows from the heart, not just from a correct understanding of the situation. Explanation must transcend information transfer and become instruction that reaches the heart.
Deuteronomy 6:5-7 forms the paradigm for how this is done.
Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. NIV 1984
Parents are to be engaged in an ongoing verbal love affair with the words of the Spirit of God. The overflow of your love for God and his word is to be talked about all through the day in all kinds of situations. Here is the order described in these verses:
First – God is to be loved with every fiber of your inner being and with every thought of your heart.
Second – The commands of God are to dominate your inner man, your heart.
Third – It is these thoughts that flow from your passionate love for God that are to be given to children, so that you can’t help but repeat them constantly.
Fourth – The context for repeating or impressing these words diligently upon your children is everyday life – whenever and wherever you sit down, walk, lie down, or rise up. There is no place that God is not present. There is no situation, small or large, that he does not rule. There is no thought that escapes his notice. It is always practical to realize that God is present at the doctor’s office, in a traffic jam, at soccer practice, and when it is time for bed.
Words spoken in this context are indeed pleasant words. This is much more than just information transfer. This is about showing God for who he is in everything you and your children do.
It is the wonder of God and his wise ways that must overwhelm you as you provide instruction, correction and discipline, as you encounter the living God at every moment of your life. God is always there to be loved and honored. Teaching children is done by opening your heart to them. Their struggles are your struggles. In this way you can intimately identify with their joys and fears. You can show them that you don’t want them to come to where you are, but you want them to go with you to the place that you long for – the cross.